Firstly, a happy Chinese New Year – expect two weeks of celebrating the year of the Fire Monkey with all sorts of Chinese decorations, traditions and food.
For those of us still working at conceiving, check out my page here for tips of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). I am no practitioner, this page is just a small collection of info gathered through research and advice from my own Traditional Chinese Doctor.
For a little extra fun because it’s Chinese New Year, if you haven’t already read my post on Kate Davies’ fertility blog, then check it out here for some traditional Chinese Folklore for increasing fertility.
So now let’s get on to the main subject of the day, which is SPERM.
Ladies like us who are trying to conceive learn very quickly about ourselves. We who are going through all sorts of fertility treatments, on a whole plethora of prescription drugs, bought out every health store’s vitamin collection, researched our way through pages and pages of internet info and swap all of this info in a number of fertility support groups, have learnt so much about our own bodies that we could go back to university to study biology, chemistry, anatomy and medicine and ace it first time!
That being said, the information on our male partners is another study altogether. Those insy winsy swimmers remain ever elusive. Info is not as thorough and many questions still remain – what can help him to increase the quantity, the quality, the speed, the volume?
He thinks he’s got off lightly, because let’s face it, all he needs to do most of the time is go on a date with a cup – wam, bam, thank you ah… Yes, well don’t let him off that easy, ladies. Those swimmers need to be taken care of too or they will fail to do the job that you have been sweating, crying, bleeding and injecting over.
So, I present to you a very knowledgeable lady, who is my guest blogger today and available to answer all your sperm related questions. Lynn Collins is a trained Andrologist (yes, I had to look up the word myself ;-)) who managed a sperm bank for over twelve years. She has washed and analysed countless swimmers, which makes her an expert in this field.
So no more from me…I am now handing you over to Lynn to provide you and your man with great information to help you on your fertility journey…
I was very excited when I was asked to write a blog on the male prospective of infertility and who better to write this than someone who has worked with men over 12 years. I always said “ I see more men in a day than any other woman.” I think Howard Stern would be interested in that statement.
I am a trained Andrologist, which means that I provide diagnostic and treatment services to men with reproductive health issues. I managed a Sperm Bank for over twelve years and performed semen analysis; sperm washed specimens for IUI’s and managed a non-donor sperm bank. I originally trained for the position at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and later took all my new knowledge and set up an infertility lab north of Boston.
So let’s review the male reproductive system :
Sperm takes 72 days to reproduce and then they are stored in the epididymis which is located on each side of the teste, where they are stored and matured. The sperm that are produced by the testes are immature and would be incapable to fertilize an egg. The mature sperm swim in semen through the woman’s cervix and up the fallopian tubes to meet the egg for fertilization.
Men need to have healthy sperm to be able to reach those eggs and to do that, men need to have a healthy lifestyle. There are many factors that can affect mens fertility from genetics, hormones, enviormental exposures and lifestyles. As time goes on with infertility studies they are showing all the time that lifestyle factors can cause damage to the DNA of the sperm. Remember one half of the DNA is from the sperm and the other is from the egg.
How can men maximize and protect one of their most valuable assets…their fertility?
Here is my advice…
1. Maintain a good weight and regular exercise. Studies have shown overweight men could have hormonal problems associated with low sperm count and quality. Much of the sexual dysfunction humans experience is related to low testosterone and lack of exercise. A dramatic drop in testosterone is followed by weight gain in men. Obesity is not only related to diabetes but also related to lower testosterone levels. Testosterone is needed for normal sperm production. Regular exercise helps reduce stress and aids in weight control and a better mind set.
2. Eat Right and take multiple vitamins. Opt for a healthy diet of fruit and vegetables and choose whole grains instead of refined carbohydrates. Men consuming omega-3 fatty acids were found to have sperm with a more normal structure and higher concentration (count) than men who consume junk food diets with high levels of saturated fats.
Ensure you are taking a multi, pantothenic acid, biotin, pyridoxine, folic acid, inositol, and vitamin B12, Vitamin C, selenium and zinc are important in a multi, too. Zinc supports good testosterone metabolism, and B-complex improves digestion, and helps with stress.
3. Stop smoking, watch alcohol and no illicit drugs:.It is common knowledge that cigarette smoking is detrimental to health. Many studies have shown that the components of the cigarette can transfer the blood- testes barrier and contribute to sperm DNA damage. Men who smoke heavily or drink and use recreational drugs appear to have lower sperm motility and a higher proportion of abnormal sperm.
4. Avoid hot baths and hot tubs and wear boxers. All that heat will kill sperm in its prime. The same is true with putting laptops on your lap. The old wives’ tale that tight underwear causes decreased fertility has some basis in the truth, as it causes heat but is not scientifically proven. However, why not do everything you can to help just in case?
Also, studies have shown that men that are avid bike riders can have a temperature effect on the sperm being in a sitting position for a long period of time, while the bouncing could cause trauma to the testes.
5. Time clock is also ticking for men: Men go through their own type of menopause like women called andropause, which is a decline in testosterone. Testosterone is a major barometer for the aging process. Starting at the age of 40 men’s testosterone generally declines at a rate of one percent each year. As a young male they enjoy the highest levels of testosterone from ages 21 to 24 years. By age 55 the testosterone level might be half of what they were when they were young. Some men think about having some of their sperm frozen for future use, just in case there are changes to their fertility.
6. Assess your overall health and ask your care provider. If your man suffers from a chronic medical condition and is on regular medications such as high blood pressure, epilepsy, diabetes and asthma etc. check with your doctor if these medications/over –the-counter-drugs are safe for fertility. Certain blood pressure, depression, anxiety, pain and chemotherapy medications can have an effect of sperm performance.
Lynn has written a book entitled, “Sperm Tales: An Informative Guide Through the Challenges of Infertility.” This is an A to Z guide through the fertility struggles that couples could face with advice and guidance, medical and otherwise. The book comes with a mascot sperm named Spanky, who tells little humorous comments at the end of chapters, which are actually comments that Lynn’s male patients made to her over the 12 years.
Sperm Tales can be found on on Amazon UK or US in hard copy or Kindle download.
Lynn can be contacted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org telephone 978-257-0516 or her website http://www.infertility-tales.com
Ladies, I hope this has been useful. I haven’t personally read Lynn’s book, but I’m sure it is a fascinating read and I would love to hear feedback from anyone who has/does.
If you think that this could be helpful to someone you know, then please share as much as you like.